October 03, 2013 - 6:40 PM
KAMLOOPS - The 71-year-old man who caused the death of fellow patient Jack Shippobotham has died at a Kamloops care home.
Spokesperson for the B.C. Coroners Service Barb McLintock says the man, whose name is not being released, died Sept. 19 at the Hillside Centre where he was moved to immediately following the incident at the Overlander Extended Care unit.
His death means any pursuit of criminal charges will come to a halt. In mid-August, Const. Bernie Ward confirmed the RCMP had investigated the incident and sent their findings to Crown counsel. That legal process will now be abandoned.
What will continue is a Coroners investigation into 79-year-old Jack Shippobotham’s June death to determine if any recommendations can be made to prevent a similar incident. At the same time, the Coroners Service is investigating the death of William May at the hand of John Furman, who, unlike Shippobotham’s attacker, has been charged with second degree murder. Like the man who attacked Shippobotham, Furman has been moved to the Hillside Centre. McLintock says the cases are being looked at side by side.
“Obviously when you get two cases that close at hand in what we would hope is an unusual incident, we’re looking to see if there’s any common issues we should be looking at or common recommendations we can make to prevent similar circumstances,” she says.
Both files remain in the information gathering stages, though McLintock hopes to see results for the Shippobotham case within weeks.
“When we had Jack (Shippobotham), we thought it was a weird one off. When we got the other one we thought maybe it’s not,” McLintock says.
“One of the questions is, is this the tip of an iceberg what we’re seeing here?”
Interior Health is conducting their own internal investigation of the deaths, the findings of which may or may not be made public.
“This is a quality review. It’s really designed to aid in quality improvement in our facilities,” manager of public affairs Darshan Lindsay says.
Section 51 of the B.C. Evidence Act prohibits the release of certain information contained in the review. Lindsay says these confidentiality provisions are in place to encourage staff to “share information more freely” in a “frank and open” discussion.
“We recognize there is a public interest and are certainly looking at what type of information we may be able to share but also in accordance with those prohibitions,” Lindsay says.
The investigation into William May's death is protected under the same provisions.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is moving forward with the creation of a seniors' advocate who will monitor services and collaborate with seniors, families, and policy makers. It’s something Shippobotham’s family is happy to hear.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health says the Seniors Advocate Act was passed on March 14 of this year. B.C. is the first province in Canada to do so. Now, the Ministry is deciding the best way to appoint someone to the position. The Ministry spokesperson can’t say if the seniors advocate could influence the Shippobotham or Furman cases directly but notes “if there was an abundance of those issues occurring he would be making note and putting forward recommendations to the government... to prevent it from happening.”
In the wake of her husband’s death, Vera Shippobotham says prevention of another tragedy is all she hopes for.
In a Facebook post, Shippobotham's daughter questioned why it took two weeks for news of the death of her dad's attacker to surface.
"Seems a strange course of events but nothing about my dad's case has been straightforward. My condolences to the man's family for their loss," she wrote.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at email@example.com, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013